Monday, April 28, 2014

Mexican Chicken Soup



It's a gloomy, rainy day in sunny Southern California! Our weather's ADHD never fails us. So, naturally, after a 90 degree day, there will likely be a 50 degree day.

That's cool with me. I like soup.

I like soup a lot.

(Adapted from Jane Coxwell)

Ingredients:

  • 10 cups water
  • One 3 1/2-pound chicken
  • 3 medium tomatoes, cored and quartered
  • 1 medium carrot, sliced 1/2 inch thick
  • 1 small red onion, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 small cinnamon stick
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro, plus more for garnish
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 2 small flour tortillas, halved
  • 6 tablespoons fresh lime juice

Directions:


  1. In a saucepan, combine the water, chicken, tomatoes, carrot, onion, garlic, coriander, cumin, cinnamon and the 1/2 cup of cilantro. Add a generous pinch each of salt and pepper and bring to a boil.
  2. Cover partially and simmer over moderately low heat for 30 minutes, skimming as necessary.
  3. Discard the cinnamon stick and continue simmering until the chicken is cooked through, 30 minutes longer.
  4. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, toast the tortillas over moderate heat, turning once, until crisp in spots, 3 minutes. Cut the tortillas into thin strips.
  5. Transfer the chicken to a plate and let cool slightly.
  6. Shred the meat; discard the skin and bones.
  7. Return the chicken to the saucepan and reheat the soup.
  8. Stir in the lime juice and season with salt and pepper.
  9. Ladle the soup into bowls. Garnish with the tortilla strips and cilantro and serve.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Sweet and Spicy Catfish Sandwiches



(Adapted from Food and Wine)

(Serves 4)

Ingredients:

  • 4 soft baguettes (about 7 inches long), split lengthwise (Mini Baguette Recipe!)
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup plus 1/4 teaspoon honey
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon very finely chopped fresh ginger
  • 1 scallion, white and green parts chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, 2 very finely chopped
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup shredded carrots
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon sambal oelek or other Asian red chile sauce
  • 2 large, thick, skinless catfish fillets (about 10 ounces each), halved lengthwise
  • Vegetable oil, for brushing
  • Thinly sliced cucumber and cilantro sprigs, for serving

Directions:


  1. Preheat the broiler and position a rack 6 inches from the heat. Brush the cut sides of the rolls with the butter.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk 1/4 cup of the honey with the soy sauce, ginger, scallion and chopped garlic. Season the honey glaze lightly with salt and black pepper.
  3. In another small bowl, whisk 1/4 cup of the honey with the vinegar and 1 teaspoon of salt. Add the carrots and toss to combine.
  4. In a third small bowl, whisk the mayonnaise with the sambal oelek and the remaining 1/4 teaspoon of honey; season the sambal mayonnaise with salt.  
  5. Arrange the fish fillets on a baking sheet; brush with oil and season lightly with salt and pepper. Broil for about 6 minutes, until the fish is just beginning to turn opaque.
  6. Brush the fillets very liberally with the honey glaze and broil for 8 minutes longer, until browned and cooked through.
  7. Spread baguettes with the sambal mayonnaise. Using a slotted spoon, lift the carrots from the pickling liquid and spread them on the toasted bread.
  8. Top with the glazed fish fillets, cucumber slices and cilantro sprigs and close the sandwiches. Cut the sandwiches in half and serve right away.

Perfect (4-hour!) Mini Baguettes


I have been looking for the perfect at-home baguette recipe for a very long time. Most of them are extremely complicated and require way more time than I usually have. The one I found on Fine Cooking is a very good recipe, but I tweaked it to make it easier and more do-able for the average home cook!

This is my go-to recipe for baguettes. They are chewy, soft, crispy, delicious-- perfect. 

WARNING: You may want to make a double batch since you'll probably be eating these right when they come out of the oven...

(Adapted from Fine Cooking)

(Makes six loaves)

Ingredients:


  • 1 lb. (3-1/3 cups) bread flour; more for dusting
  • 2-1/2 tsp. active dry yeast
  • 2 tsp. fine sea salt 
  • 1 1/2 cups luke-warm water
  • fine cornmeal for sprinkling on the baking sheet
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon water


Directions:


  1. Combine 1-1/2 cups warm water with yeast in a small bowl. Let stand for ten minutes. The yeast should begin to foam/bubble. (The water should be neither hot nor cold. You want to wake up the yeast! If it's too hot, it'll kill the yeast!)
  2. Add the flour and salt to the bowl of a stand mixer. Fit the mixer with the dough hook and mix on low to combine.
  3. Gradually add the yeast/water mixture to the flour mixture, mixing on medium-low.
  4. Mix on medium-low speed for 1 minute. With a rubber spatula, scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl and the dough hook; the dough will be very sticky. Mix, scraping down the bowl and hook every 2 minutes, until the dough looks smooth and pulls away from the sides of the bowl, about 6 minutes more. The dough will be sticky! 
  5. Remove the dough hook and scrape any dough clinging to the hook into the bowl.
  6. Scrape all the dough out of the bowl onto a lightly floured work surface. Lightly flour the dough and your fingers.
  7. Remove the dough from the work surface, using the bowl scraper to loosen it if necessary, and put it seam side down in a medium bowl. 
  8. Cover with a linen or other flat-weave towel and let the dough rest in a draft-free spot until roughly doubled in size, 1 to 2 hours. 
  9. Line a large (17-1/2 x 13-inch) rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. 
  10. Scrape the dough out of the bowl onto a lightly floured work surface, smooth top side down. Fold one side of the dough into the middle and press down firmly along the length of the seam. Fold in the opposite side and press again firmly along the length of the seam, forming a rectangle.
  11. Turn the dough over so the smooth side is up. With the bowl scraper, cut the dough into 6 equal pieces by making one lengthwise and two crosswise cuts. Weigh them; they should each be about 4-3/4 oz. Equal them out by cutting a bit off the heavier pieces and tucking it under the lighter pieces. 
  12. Make a line of flour on your work surface to dredge the baguettes. Working with one piece of dough at a time, put it smooth side down on a lightly floured work surface.
  13. Fold a long edge of the dough into the center, pressing firmly with your fingertips along the seam all the way down to the work surface, folding with one hand and pressing with the other, working from one end to the other. Fold the other long edge into the center in the same way. 
  14. Continue to fold and press alternate edges until the baguette is 11 to 12 inches long, 5 to 6 folds.
  15. Dredge the smooth side of the dough (the seam is on top) in the line of flour.
  16. Set the baguette floured side up (seam down) on the baking sheet. 
  17. Repeat with the remaining dough. Cover with a linen or other flat-weave towel that has been dredged in flour and let sit until roughly doubled in size, 1 to 1-1/2 hours. 
  18. While the dough sits, position oven racks in the top and bottom thirds of the oven and heat the oven to 500°F (if you have a convection oven, use it). Have ready a small spray bottle of water.
  19. When the baguettes are ready, cut slits in the tops of them. With a thin, very sharp knife, make 4 to 5 slashes on a sharp diagonal, 1/8 to 1/4 inch deep, on the tops of each baguette.
  20. Mix egg and 1 tablespoon water in a small bowl. Brush the tops of each baguette with the mixture. 
  21. Open the oven and quickly spray about 10 squirts of water into the bottom and sides of the oven to make steam. Put the baguettes in the oven, spray again into the bottom and sides of the oven, and quickly close the door to trap the steam. Reduce the oven temperature to 475°F. Bake the baguettes for 6 minutes and then quickly turn them over on their baking sheets. Swap the sheets’ positions and bake for another 5 minutes.
  22. Remove the baguettes from their baking sheets and put them scored side up directly on the oven racks. Bake until the baguettes are dark golden brown, about 5 minutes more. Transfer to a rack to cool.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Salted Fudge Brownies


(Kate Krader)

I'm gonna be totally honest here and tell you that I have never made these myself. I try to give Boyfriend opportunities to make things that seem easy-ish whenever I can so that he can build his kitchen skills and so I can save myself some time! Every time we need these, he makes them.

They're so fudgy and delicious, that he makes them regularly. They're as close as you can get to licking the bowl without getting salmonella from the raw eggs. 


Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter
  • 2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon Maldon sea salt 

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°. 
  2. Line a 9-inch square metal cake pan with foil, draping the foil over the edges. Lightly butter the foil.
  3. In a large saucepan, melt the butter with the unsweetened chocolate over very low heat, stirring occasionally.
  4. Remove from the heat.
  5. Whisking them in one at a time until thoroughly incorporated, add the cocoa, sugar, eggs, vanilla and flour.
  6. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the surface.
  7. Sprinkle the salt evenly over the batter. Using a butter knife, swirl the salt into the batter.
  8. Bake the fudge brownies in the center of the oven for about 35 minutes, until the edge is set but the center is still a bit soft and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out coated with a little of the batter.
  9. Let the brownies cool at room temperature in the pan for 1 hour, then refrigerate just until they are firm, about 1 hour.
  10. Lift the brownies from the pan and peel off the foil.
  11. Cut the brownies into 16 squares. Serve at room temperature.

MAKE AHEAD The salted fudge brownies can be refrigerated for up to 3 days, and frozen for up to 1 month.

Grilled Steak with Blue Cheese Polenta and Red Wine Sauce


(Adapted from Cooking Light)

This recipe comes from yet another semi-desperate attempt to use only ingredients we already had at home to save some money. Also, our refrigerator is ridiculously over-loaded. =]

Boyfriend and I have also recently started calorie counting with an app called LoseIt!. It's an app that allows to input your current weight, your activity level, and how much you want to lose. From that information, it calculates how many calories you can have each day, and it allows you extra calories if you input exercise! So far, it's been working quite well, and is actually really fun to use! (It's also kind of depressing, because it sort of forces you to think about how many calories are in certain things and how many calories you were consuming before you started counting...).

ANYWAY...from now on, my posts are (probably) going to be a lot healthier and I will also include the calories per serving. (Which means I did math! And I hate math!) I hope my change will help those of you out there in cyberspace get motivated to change some shit, too!

(Serves 4)
Ingredients:
  • 2 cups plus 2 tablespoon fat-free, lower-sodium chicken broth, divided
  • 1 cup 2% reduced-fat milk
  • 2/3 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 1 ounce blue or gorgonzola cheese, crumbled (about 1/4 cup)
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
  • Cooking spray
  • 1 pound sirloin steak, trimmed and cut into 4 pieces
  • 2 teaspoon unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped shallots
  • 1 cup dry red wine
  • 2 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
  • 3 teaspoons honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon cornstarch

Preparation

  1. Combine 2 cups broth and milk in a medium saucepan over medium heat; bring to a boil. Gradually whisk cornmeal into broth mixture, stirring constantly. Reduce heat to medium-low; cook 12-15 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from heat.
  2. Stir in cheese, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Cover; let stand 5 minutes.
  3. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Sprinkle steak evenly with remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and remaining 1/4 teaspoon pepper.
  4. Add steak to pan; cook 3 minutes on each side or until desired degree of doneness. Transfer to a cutting board; cover loosely with foil.
  5. Melt butter in skillet over medium-high heat. Add shallots; sauté 1 minute.
  6. Add wine, thyme, and honey; bring to a boil. Cook until reduced by half .
  7. Combine remaining 2 tablespoons broth and cornstarch in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk. Add cornstarch mixture to skillet; cook 1 minute or until sauce slightly thickens.
  8. Cut steak diagonally across grain into thin slices.
  9. Spoon sauce onto each of 4 plates. Top each serving with 1/2 cup polenta and 3 ounces steak.




Fish Tacos with Creamy Lime Guacamole and Cabbage Slaw



(Adapted from Kerry Simon)

Makes 4 servings

Ingredients:
  • 2 Hass avocados—halved, pitted and peeled
  • 1/4 cup low-fat sour cream or Greek yogurt
  • 1 small jalapeño, seeded and thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons minced red onion
  • 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
  • 5 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 small head of napa cabbage, shredded (2 cups)
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, plus more for brushing
  • 1 pound thick red snapper fillets with skin, cut crosswise into ten 2-inch-wide strips
  • 4-5  7-inch flour tortillas, warmed
  • 1 medium tomato, thinly sliced
  • Hot sauce, for serving
  • Lime wedges, for serving

Directions:
  1. Light a grill. In a medium bowl, mash the avocados, sour cream, jalapeño, red onion, cilantro and 3 tablespoons of the lime juice. Season the guacamole with salt and pepper and press a piece of plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the guacamole.
  2. In a large bowl, toss the cabbage with the 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil and the remaining 2 tablespoons of lime juice. Season with salt and pepper.
  3. Brush the fish with oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill over moderately high heat until lightly charred and cooked through, about 10 minutes. Transfer the fish to a platter and pull off the skin.
  4. To assemble each taco, spread a dollop of guacamole on a tortilla. Top with a piece of fish, a few tomato slices and a large spoonful of the cabbage slaw. Serve with the hot sauce and lime wedges.

Open-Faced Steak Sandwiches on Garlic Bread with Pickled Red Onions

(Adapted from Bobby Flay)


This was a meal that was built from whatever we had left in the fridge. (Or because we were too lazy/broke to go grocery shopping...).

It has since become a solid staple dinner in our home. Our roommates even make it. Simple, delicious, and green (ish). 

(Serves 4)

Ingredients:
  • 2-3 lbs of sirloin steak, trimmed
  • Your favorite BBQ sauce
  • Texas Toast, recipe follows
  • Pickled Red Onions, recipe follows
  • Arugula


Grilled Texas Toast:
  • 1 teaspoons canola oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, smashed and chopped to a paste
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 8 pieces of thickly sliced french or sourdough bread
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped flat-leaf parsley

Pickled Red Onions:
  • 3/4 cups red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • Kosher salt
  • 1/2 red onion, halved and thinly sliced

Directions:
  1. Marinate steak in BBQ sauce for at least 30 minutes, or overnight for best results.
  2. Preheat grill at a low temperature.
  3. Grill on low, flipping every 10 minutes or so and basting with BBQ sauce, until meat has reached an internal temperature of 145 (for medium-rare). 
  4. Place meat on a plate, cover with foil, and allow to rest for 10 minutes.
  5. Slice meat against the grain into thin slices.
  6. Lay out Texas toast, and then layer arugula, meat, and onions onto each slice.
  7. Drizzle with BBQ sauce and serve!


Grilled Texas Toast:
  1. Preheat the grill to medium-high.
  2. Heat the oil in a small saute pan and cook the garlic for 1 minute. Let cool slightly.
  3. Stir in the butter and season with salt and pepper.
  4. Grill the bread until lightly golden brown on both sides. Remove from the grill and spread 1 side of each slice with some of the garlic butter.


Pickled Red Onions:
  • Bring the vinegar, sugar, mustard seeds and 1 tablespoon salt to a boil in a small saucepan and cook until the sugar and salt dissolves, about 1 minute.
  • Transfer to a small bowl and let cool for 10 minutes.
  • Add the onions and stir to combine. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour and up to 24 hours




Pork Loin Chops with Vermouth Blue Cheese Sauce and Butternut Squash Puree

(Adapted from Ranch House Restaurant)


A girl I work with was just RAVING about the Ranch House Restaurant in Ojai and was telling me all about this vermouth blue cheese sauce they had.

Since Ojai is a bit far, I decided to try to re-create the sauce as she had described it. To my surprise, I was able to find the recipe for it on Saveur.com!

Ive made blue cheese sauce for pork chops before, but the vermouth, the herb-salt, and the pairing with the butternut squash is just ridiculous. It's not even right how good this dish is.

WARNING: You might need to lick your plate.

(Serves 4)

Ingredients:

FOR THE HERB SALT:
  • 1 tbsp. coarse salt
  • 1 tbsp. chopped onion
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled
  • 2 tbsp. fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 tsp. fresh basil
  • 1 tsp. fresh thyme


FOR THE PURÉE:
  • 1 1-lb. butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cubed
  • 1 1" piece fresh ginger, quartered lengthwise
  • 1 tbsp. butter
  • 1/2 tsp. Herb Salt (or more, to taste)
  • 1 tsp. brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp. sliced almonds


FOR THE SAUCE:
  • 1.5 cup dry vermouth
  • 1¾ cups heavy cream
  • 3 oz. Danish blue cheese, crumbled
  • Freshly ground white pepper
  • herb salt


  • 4 8-oz. loin pork chops, 1" thick, trimmed
  • 2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt


Directions:

1. Combine herb salt ingredients in a food processor and puree until it has a sand-like texture. Set aside. 

2. For the purée: Put squash and ginger in a pot, cover with water, bring to a boil over medium heat, and cook until soft, 30–35 minutes. Remove and discard ginger. Drain squash and mash to a coarse purée. Stir in butter, herb salt, and brown sugar. Cover and keep warm.

3. For the sauce: Bring vermouth to a boil in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Boil until reduced by half, about 7 minutes. Add cream and return to a boil. Reduce sauce by one-third, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat, whisk in cheese, and season with hen salt and pepper. Cover and keep warm. 


4. Place an oiled grill pan over medium-high heat. Brush chops with oil and season liberally with salt and pepper. Grill until just cooked through, about 8 minutes per side. To serve, divide sauce among four plates. Put chops on top of sauce. Serve with a dollop of squash on the side, sprinkled with almonds.

Cottage Pie

(Adapted from Melissa D'Arabian)


Boyfriend got me the meat grinder attachment for Beyonce (My Kitchenaid stand mixer!). I was super eager to try it, but I wanted to make something I hadn't really made before.

I started with a Melissa D'Arabian recipe for Shepherd's Pie (Which wasn't really shepherd's pie, since she was using beef, not lamb...) and I added some BabyBakes improvements, including fresh ground beef!

It was pretty gross to watch the meat grinder, but it was super fun. And the meat was delicious. This recipe was so good that we made it two nights in a row! (Once for ourselves, and a second time for my dad's birthday dinner!)

Ingredients:

Potato Topping:
  • 6 large yukon gold potatoes, peeled and quartered
  • 10 whole garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup beef or chicken broth
  • 4 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


Filling:

  • 4 slices thick-cut bacon, cut into thin strips
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 2 medium onions, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, plus 1/2 teaspoon
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 2 to 3 medium carrots, roughly chopped, (about 1 cup)
  • 3/4 cups frozen peas, thawed
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1 (12-ounce) bottle of Guinness (or a bottle and a half if you want a little deeper flavor)
  • 1/2 cup beef broth
  • 1 teaspoon finely minced fresh rosemary leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup grated aged irish cheddar cheese
  • chopped fresh parsley leaves


Directions:

Prepare potato topping: 
  1. In a large saucepan add the potatoes and garlic and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil over medium heat and cook, uncovered, until the potatoes are fork-tender, about 15 to 20 minutes. Drain.
  2. Transfer the potatoes and garlic to a large bowl (or the bowl of your stand mixer). Add the sour cream, 1/4 cup of the broth, butter, salt and pepper, and beat on low speed with a hand mixer until the potatoes are light and fluffy, about 1 to 2 minutes. If the mixture is too dry, add the remaining 1/4 cup broth. Do not overmix. Cover and set aside.
  3. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 10-inch round baking dish with nonstick spray.


Prepare filling: 
  1. Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add the bacon and cook, stirring occasionally until browned and almost crisp, about 7 to 8 minutes. With a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon to a plate; set aside.
  2. Add the oil to the drippings in the skillet and put over medium heat.
  3. Add the onions and 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are very soft and just beginning to brown, about 10 minutes.
  4. Sprinkle in the sugar, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions begin to caramelize, about 3 minutes.
  5. Stir in the beef and cook, stirring occasionally, over medium-high heat, until the beef begins to brown, about 7 minutes.
  6. Add the carrots, peas, and garlic and cook, stirring, until the vegetables begin to soften, about 5 minutes.
  7. Stir in the tomato paste and flour and cook, stirring, until well blended, about 2 minutes.
  8. Add the beer, bring to a boil and boil for 3 minutes. Cook, stirring with a wooden spoon, and scraping up the browned bits from the bottom of the pan, about 2 minutes
  9. Add the cooked bacon, the broth, rosemary, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and the pepper, and bring to a boil.
  10. Reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, until the sauce thickens, about 15 minutes.
  11. Spoon the meat mixture into the prepared baking dish. Spread the potato topping evenly over the beef mixture.
  12. Bake until the filling is hot, the topping is lightly browned and the edges are bubbly, about 35 minutes.
  13. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with the cheese.
  14. Return to the oven and bake for 10 more minutes, or until cheese is bubbly.
  15. Let rest out of the oven for 10 minutes before serving. Sprinkle with parsley and serve.